WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS?
Meditation involves an awareness of your inner life. Your thoughts and intentions. Meditation creates an internal stillness where you can more easily connect with God.
Mindfulness involves your focus on the world around you, as brought to you by your senses. It’s physical, tangible.
Mindfulness is a tool often used in meditation practice. For example, when you use words (such as Scripture or a mantra) in order to quiet the mind and connect with God (or develop self-awareness), you are blending mindfulness with meditation.
These disciplines can be approached from any religious or secular perspective. Their mental, emotional and physical benefits are proven by science. Their spiritual riches are beyond measure.
SET YOUR INTENTION
What’s your intention? Why are you doing this? You must set your intention, because it will shape every aspect of your meditation practice.
Is your goal inner peace? Is it oneness with the universe? Or do you seek communion with the Living God?
Everyone who comes to meditation yearns for peace of some kind. But where can that peace be found? Is it already within you? Or is it found only when God dwells within you?
Buddhist and Hindu meditation techniques, which blend easily into modern New Age meditation, seek nothingness as the ultimate goal. By this they mean losing your singularity and being absorbed into the universal consciousness (an impersonal energy that permeates all living things). This, they say, is where peace is found.
WHAT IS CHRISTIAN MEDITATION?
Christian meditation seeks a very different end – the emptying of self for a higher purpose – to be filled with Christ’s presence. Only then can He work through you to bring His love to others. You become a temple of the Holy Spirit. He is no impersonal energy, but a very personal, infinite being. He created you, loves you, and died for your sins.
‘Less of me, more of You, Jesus!’ (John the Baptist exclaimed)
Is this your heart? Then you’re ready to enjoy some amazing times of communion with God, through a meditation practice known to the early Christians as Lectio Divina.
LECTIO DIVINA — THE PRACTICE OF CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
Lectio Divina is latin for Divine Reading. It begins with a Bible verse, read aloud, slowly, a number of times. Several minutes of silence follow each reading. Questions are offered as suggestions for reflection and prayer.
Simple is powerful.
There are no interpretations or sermons.
Just you, Jesus, and His Word.
THE MINDFULNESS EFFECT
Want to add some mindfulness to your Lectio Divina? Join me in these simple steps:
- Close your eyes and notice the rhythm of your breathing.
- Inhale into your belly, slow breaths.
- Continually bring your awareness back to God. He created your first breath. He creates each breath now. And, He is even closer to you than your breath.
- Distracting thoughts may come and go. Don’t condemn or evaluate them. Treat your thoughts as though they are clouds, floating by in the sky above. You’re aware of them, but you aren’t following them.
- Observe, and invite the Lord into each moment.
EXPECTANCY WITHOUT EXPECTATION
Finally, let go of your expectations. If you don’t receive anything clearly from the Lord during your meditation, that’s perfectly fine. Time spent with God is never wasted. His Word is always profitable and nourishing, even if there isn’t a tangible take away. God always meets with you when invited. Being still before Him is enough. This is worship in simplicity.
NOW YOU TRY IT!
Lectio Divina is most effective when someone reads the verses and you listen. Invite a friend to read John 15:1-5 aloud:
1. During the first reading, simply listen.
Jesus said to His disciples: ‘I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean (pruned) because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain (abide) in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.’
(Leave five minutes for contemplation and silent prayer.)
2. During the second reading, notice if there’s a word or a phrase that stands out. Is there something in these verses that draws you? Or something that you’re pushing away from?
3. During the third reading, go a little deeper. Invite Holy Spirit to illuminate truth. Ask Him what these verses mean for you personally.
4. During the fourth reading, simply rest in God’s presence. What attributes of God’s character make you want to worship Him, or just be with Him? Sit in the presence of the one who invites you to come away and be with Him.
Would you like access to free weekly Lectio Divina meditation podcasts, similar to what you’ve just practiced? Then I highly recommend Cultivate Connection – a Bible-based meditation podcast. This weekly half-hour download offers spiritual refreshment and a space to consistently meet with God.